The York Waits have revived the sound, and in performance I believe costume, of the City bands of the 16th century, playing a wide repertoire of period European music as well as their own arrangements of popular dance and ballad tunes. Like their predecessors they play upon a 'noyse of shawms', characteristic instruments of waits before 1600, as well as cornett, saggbut, and curtal, flutes, recorders great and small, crumhorns, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies, lute and cittern. Subtitled 'Popular music from the period of the Gunpowder Plot' the York Waits have compiled a varied selection of dance tunes, airs and processional pieces which are all played skilfully. The pieces which range from the dramatic and majestic opening track 'The Hunt is Up' and later 'Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie' from Arbeaus 'Orchesographie' to the gentler 'Greensleeves' and 'Daphne' are all faultlessly played and beautifully recorded. The various combinations of instruments used -'flute and lute', 'High and low C bagpipes, hurdy gurdy' or Shawms, sackbut and percussion' have been skilfully programmed to maintain both variety and interest for just over an hour. I have not only been playing this CD to listen to for the purpose of this review, but have found myself reaching for it when I have wanted background music for working to. The CD comes with a booklet which not only sets the scene historically but provides detailed information about each tune and the instruments which are used to play it. A beautifully produced CD.
Brian Cope Folk London